I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog slamming my employer’s stupidity, dishonesty, and asshattery, but I don’t want to give you a false impression. A lot of the hell of work comes from corporate and management, but not all of it – customers, coworkers, and so on can do their part to make a put-upon wage slave’s day a little worse, and I’ve decided to balance out my portrayal of retail employment (and pad my word count) by sharing some of those stories.
I think I’ll start with a young man from Canada I met one evening:
“I’d like a Canadian Classic regular,” he said
“Um, what is that?”
“Don’t be rude with me!”
“No, I’m serious. I don’t know what a Canadian Classic is.”
I eventually learned that “Canadian Classic” is a brand of cigarette. Later, I did a little research; it has a small market share in Canada (it’s described politely by Philip Morris as a “local heritage brand“) and it’s on the market in one other country, which is not America. I assume you can get it here, but not at your average convenience store or any other storefront I can think of. Even the local smoke shop is too small to stock brands like this, unless one of their regulars is a fan.
But this particular Canadian wasn’t just surprised that I hadn’t heard of his brand of smokes; he didn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of it. He thought I was making a bad joke at his expense.
That much I might have shrugged off, because I’d thought the same of him for a couple of seconds, wondering if “Canadian Classic” was some bizarre sex act that exists only on Urban Dictonary, like “Canadian hotflap.”
I also could have shrugged off his provincialism. Sure, he’s the first Canadian traveler I’ve met who was that provincial, but I’ve met a few Americans who were, and something something human nature blah blah society as a whole.
What I couldn’t easily abide was at the end, after I’d suggested a brand of Canadian cigarettes that are actually sold locally and we’d completed a business transaction, when he leaned in toward me and stage-whispered, “Your life sucks.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Your life sucks. I just wanted you to know that.” And he walked out.
That’s right, he wanted to make sure my spirit was suitably crushed for the sin of not having encyclopedic knowledge of obscure foreign cigarettes. Never mind that what he wanted wasn’t available, that I had no control over whether it was available, and that he had no good reason to believe otherwise – I’d slightly disappointed him, and he’d do his best to ensure I suffered despair over it.
What a completely ignorant entitled asshole.